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I Thought Having a Breast Reduction Would Make Me a Bad Feminist

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The first time I looked in the mirror and saw my freshly reduced breasts, I nearly passed out. Sorry to scare you, reader, but it was a grim sight — all gentian violet stipple marks, purpled bruises, puffy flesh, and sutures that made me look like the Bride of Frankenstein, and not in a sexy Halloween way. I hadn’t taken a shower in a week; the topic had become a source of considerable aggravation between my mom and me, but I kept nodding off anyway, so the point was mostly moot.

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It took me years to get to this point: countless cumbersome bras bought at awkward family trips to specialty stores, where prosthetic breasts gleamed like chicken cutlets in the fluorescent light; shoulder indentations; baggy clothes; and body piercing to try and rouse some feeling into my most loathed body parts. Apologies, mom, but I got my nipples pierced not once or twice but three separate times, the irony being that it’s awfully hard to heal what’s essentially a surface piercing on an F or G cup boob. The size of the cup is sometimes dependent on the maker and fit of the bra, and over the years, my cups crept towards a G. Still, I resisted surgery, and not just because my mom’s well-meaning but slightly tipsy friend once described in detail the old way they performed the surgery (“They put my nipples on the table!” is how she put it, way back in the early ’90s).

I didn’t want to get my breasts reduced because I thought it would make me a bad feminist. That I was somehow sticking it to The Man by not allowing myself relief from the increasing pain, both physical and mental, of waking up with backaches, wrestling with geriatric bras, and cursing shirts that buckled when I tried to button them. I don’t regret getting my nipples pierced (although in retrospect I should have probably given up after the first try). But I do regret not giving myself permission to do what I wanted with a body that made me miserable.

The first time I looked in the mirror and saw my freshly reduced breasts, I nearly passed out.

I started seriously considering the surgery after my father died in the spring of 2003. You’d be surprised what you feel capable of once you hold the hand of a parent taking his last breaths on Earth.

In 2004, I went to a consultation at a ritzy doctor’s office on the Upper East Side. A friend of a friend had got her reduction done there in the late ’90s; she’d presented her doctor with a copy of Drew Barrymore’s Playboy as an example of the breasts she wanted. (Barrymore is also a member of the formerly enormous boobs committee, so it seems appropriate to use her perfectly reduced breasts as a guideline.) I was dejected after the whole thing, like a piece of meat shuttled between offices, so my mom made me an appointment with Dr. L., a family friend back in Dallas. She knew that I’d procrastinate forever if left to my own devices, much like I still do for airplane reservations.

After examining me, Dr. L. took measurements of my breasts, including the acreage between my nipple and my rib cage; that particular measurement would generally indicate how small we could go while also keeping my breasts at a reasonable proportion for my height and weight. Keeping within that ratio would also allow him to keep my nipple mostly attached for the surgery, leaving me with whatever feeling was left after all those piercings. We flipped through a book of before and after photos, I pointed out the breasts I liked best, and he showed me what I would probably look like by the time he was done; then he took my before photo. He knew I’d already thought about the decision to have the surgery for months, if not years, and that there wasn’t really much to discuss except when to schedule the surgery. We decided to do it over Thanksgiving, which would give me about a week to recover in Dallas. I don’t think anything he could have said would have dissuaded me. But I was terrified.

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As opposed to the more old-fashioned and barbaric surgery my mom’s friend had described, the most common breast reductions these days leave the nipples mostly intact. If you look closely, I have anchor-shaped scars from the bottom of each nipple, down to where my breast meets my ribcage, and then across to the area beneath my armpit. The remaining tissue had been basically stuffed up high on my chest so it could fall into a natural shape; initially, the bottom of each breast was like a pocket waiting to be filled. (Yes, I’m getting a bit woozy writing this.) Not only did I not have to wear a bra for months, I wasn’t allowed to! It was incredible.

Initially, it felt like the plastic surgeon had rummaged around in my actual subconscious as well as my torso. Although I knew logically that my life wouldn’t change after I got my reduction, I was still disappointed that I wasn’t suddenly happy with my body; my breasts had obfuscated my generous belly, for starters. My love life didn’t radically upend itself. My self-esteem still struggled. I felt out of touch with this new, weird body and its breasts that felt numb in places and had horrible lumpy bits that sent my doctors scurrying to order sonograms every year. Dr. L. explained, to my surprise, that the surgery had created scar tissue in my breasts and that trying to remove the lumps could just cause more. The nerves in my breasts jangled as they came alive again over the next year or so, shocking me with pain. Is this what puberty had been like? If so, I’d effectively blocked it out and was experiencing it all over again.

Not only did I not have to wear a bra for months, I wasn’t allowed to! It was incredible.

Ten years gone, and there are things I take for granted which once shocked me with delight; not having to bend over and wriggle into bras is a major one, as is waking up without a backache. Although my breasts have sprung back to a 38D from a more manageable 34C, I can still find bras at my local undergarment store, where the woman who sizes me up and fits me perfectly comments on how wonderfully my breasts have healed. (Shout out to Orchard Street Corset!) Eventually, I calmed down both literally, when the zombie breast nerves stopped zapping me with pain, and figuratively, when I began to take for granted all of the conveniences of smaller breasts. “Don’t freak out, but there’s a lot of dead tissue in there so it’s gonna feel lumpy!” I cheerfully warn new doctors and sonogram technicians. (I still get vaguely nauseated when people press on the inner scar tissue itself, for some inexplicable reason.) But even with all of these caveats and gory details, my only wish is that I’d gotten the surgery sooner.

In the end, it was my own insecurity that made me prioritize my so-called feminist street cred over happiness. Seizing control of my body — and my pleasure — was the most empowering decision I’ve ever made. (It’s also a privileged and costly decision that I wish everyone had access to.) Although plenty of people think of breast reduction as somehow more valid or acceptable than augmentation or facelifts, my decision was based as much on aesthetics as it was on daily discomfort. As it turns out, it’s no better or worse than any other choices we make with our bodies every day. I’d never questioned other people’s bodily autonomy, but I couldn’t extend myself the same empathy. Now, I’m so glad I did.

I Let Reddit Critique My Makeup and Learned How to Do It Better

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Of course, this is not news to me! I’m in week four of trying to grow them out fully and it is painful to stay in this in-between state. The tips I got–to use a cream over a powder, try a lighter hand at brow strokes–were admittedly useful, though.

As you can see, even criticism here is super-nice. I found that in every post, everyone is encouraging, positive, helpful. That’s because the moderators put several rules in place to make it a safe space, and they’re proactive about deleting violators. You can’t ridicule others, you can’t post photos edited or with a filter, there’s no self-promotion of social media channels or blogs, there’s no referral links, and post titles that “garner sympathy or manipulate the vote count” get removed. It’s not at all what I expected as a newbie to Reddit, honestly. As far as I knew, people are pretty ruthless with their comments and downvotes on other subreddits, but I happened to find a really nice, welcome corner of the internet.

On my third try to get more makeup tips I went for a dramatic look. When I saw celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta share a photo of Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell in a red and blue July 4 look, I was sold. I carefully examined her photo to replicate her brows and contouring, but didn’t have a cobalt blue eyeliner so I improvised with some teal eyeshadow. Close enough.

Reader, I made it to the very top of the Makeup Addiction reddit for a whole day! And, the tips and tricks I hoped for came pouring in.

3. Try different contouring techniques.

“The angle of your highlight matches her bone structure, but I think it would compliment your face better if it was slightly more horizontal across the apples of your cheeks,” user AthenaNoctua wrote me. It’s true–I tried to replicate Shay’s highlighting exactly but I have different bone structure and rounder cheek; a lower angle would be much more flattering.

4. This subreddit is clutch for product recommendations.

Since deep blue eyeliner was clearly missing from my beauty collection, user strawberryee told me to check out one from Wet n Wild that’s less than $2. She was even nice enough to swatch it for me. 🙏

5. Ease up on the nose highlighter.

Someone told me the way I applied it made my “nose look larger than it actually is” (something I don’t want), so now I’m more mindful. Another user said my highlighter in general was “ever slightly too much.” Meanwhile, byzgq told me I got “glowy-but-not-greasy skin look down pat,” so next time, I’ll settle somewhere in between.

6. Be mindful of undertones in makeup.

WhatsUpDoc9 wrote that for a “true recreation” I should aim for a red-toned bronzer on top of the contour and a “more golden” shade of highlighter up the cheekbones. I’d never considered either factor.

7. Makeup artists know best–and they’re on here, too.

One user, AdvisemyStyle, had a verified “makeup artist” tag and gave me some pro feedback: “Start pulling the eyeliner more from the outer part as it will lift your eyes even more.”

Overall, the comments were helpful, specific and affirming—even for a relatively green makeup-wearer like myself.

This online community is like having a group text with all the beauty experts you wish you knew in real life. There is no pretense. Everyone is welcome, from beginners to professionals. The knowledge that I’ll have people to cheer me on along the way, I’m inspired to experiment more with makeup—and return to Makeup Addiction.

An Absurd List Of What Not To Put In Your Vagina

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Modern science tells us the vagina is a self-cleaning machine, a delicate wonderland of flora and bacteria that generally does fine if left alone. And yet, people keep insisting on putting things up there. Sure, unscented tampons are fine, as are hygienic sex toys and anything prescribed to you by a doctor, but here’s a list of a whole mess of things we’ve run across recently that are designed to row up your canal, and why you maybe shouldn’t do that.

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Glitter

The most recent vaginal trend is glitter, which makes no sense because have you ever tried to clean glitter out of anything? It stays where it is literally forever. But that didn’t stop Pretty Women Inc. from marketing “Passion Dust,” a “sparkalized capsule that is inserted into the vagina at least 1 hour prior to having sexual intercourse.” Why? Because it makes your genitals sparkly and taste like candy.

Britney Spears in the

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Pretty Women Inc. does warn that some particles could trigger an asthma attack during oral sex, and we’re pretty sure whatever is making it taste like candy is a recipe for a yeast infection. In an oddly defensive FAQ section, argue that “people love to have opinions” about what you put in your vagina (people meaning gynecologists) and “If you’ve ever had vaginal issues you had them before you used Passion Dust anyway.” Fair enough, and hey, Passion Dust looks like it’s out of stock. Still, if you want sparkly genitals just get vajazzled.

Surfboards

“Vaginal Kung Fu” is not a phrase I thought I’d read today but 2017 brings surprises every day. Anyway, Intimacy Coach Kim Anami doesn’t actually put whole surfboards in her vagina, but she does lift them with her pelvic muscles by tying one end to our favorite GOOP product, the jade egg, and then basically doing kegels. Maybe someday you’ll be able to lift a surfboard with your vagina, but don’t do it without training first.

Glue

Remember that guy who thought the solution to period woes was to glue your labia shut? And that the sensation would be like that “kind of fun” feeling when your lips stick together from too much lip gloss? And how he insisted it’d be hygenic even though it’s not like it’d create a hermetic seal? He also is developing a panty liner that transfers a powder to your vulva, which will create a labia seal if you prefer that. But, you know, don’t.

Wasp Nests

For a hot second some people were buying oak gall, a calcification that forms when wasps lay their larvae in oak trees, and mixing it with other herbs to make vaginal suppositories. Basically every medical professional was like “please, no.”

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Ozone Gas

As Theodora Sutcliffe wrote for Broadly, ozone gas has been marketed as a cure-all for over a century. Vaginal ozone therapy claims to use the gas’s anti-bacterial properties to help with yeast infections and general pain. But the FDA says ozone is a “toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy. In order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than that which can be safely tolerated by man and animals.”

Steam

Gwyneth Paltrow famously espoused the benefits of the Mugwort V Steam, as mugwort allegedly contains anti-fungal things and balances hormone levels and cleanses your uterus. Ok. Hot water vapor may not seem like the worst idea for cleaning your vagina, since that’s basically what happens when you shower, but doctors say the procedure is pointless at best and actively harmful at worst. It seems iffy that the steam would even reach one’s uterus, and there have been cases of women dying from filling their vaginas with water or air pressure. So yeah, maybe don’t.

Lysol

Before the pill, douching after sex was a common form of birth control, and many hygienic products ran suggestive ads directed to women who were looking for something to use as a rinse. One of those was Lysol, even though use of the anti-bacterial soap had caused death from uterine irrigation. Aside from a birth control method, Lysol advertised to women as a way to control vaginal odor and “ensure feminine daintiness.” We’ll take a healthy vaginal lining over daintiness any day.

See The Complete Patrick Starrr x M.A.C. Collection

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Update 11/15/2017: The entire collection has been revealed! Starrr initially teased one product, but now we have our first look at the complete collection. Starr and M.A.C. have created three lipsticks, three lip glosses, three pencils, and two eyeshadow quads. Check out the products below and get your credit cards ready for the December 14th launch date.

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Mama Starrr, Patrick Woo, and She Betta Werrrk Lipstick

Courtesy of M.A.C.

Goalgetter and Glam AF Eyeshadow Quad

Courtesy of M.A.C.

Mama Starrr, Patrick Woo, and She Betta Werrrk Lip Glass

Courtesy of M.A.C.

Mahogany, Brick, and Edge to Edge Lip Pencil

Courtesy of M.A.C.

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11/06/2017: Beauty boy Patrick Starrr is joining forces with M.A.C for a brand new holiday collection. Known best for his mesmerizing YouTube transformations—never forget the time he created a Rihanna lookalike clone—now Starr can add M.A.C makeup collaborator to his resume.

Here’s a first look Starrr’s debut product from the collection, named M.A.C x Patrick Starrr Setting Powder in Patrick’s Powder, the powder retails for $34 and will be available for purchase beginning December 14, and Starrr is set to roll out five brand new collections with the beauty giant.

Courtesy of M.A.C.

Stay tuned for more details, but get excited to stock up this holiday season!

I Shouldn’t Have to Wear a Potato Sack to Make You Feel Comfortable

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Dallas news anchor Demetria Obilor reached international audiences last week when a Facebook commenter attacked her appearance. Fans quickly came to her defense on social media, and Obilor’s story caught the attention of Chance The Rapper, Gabrielle Union, and more than 4,000 supportive commenters. Below, she talks to ELLE.com about double standards, assimilation, and why the fight for representation isn’t over.

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On television, for so long all you saw was somebody who was more slender and probably white. Now you see different body types; that catches people off guard, and there’s a lot of people who responded with the racial element. You don’t say anything when you see white girls wearing the same thing, but when you see me or someone like me, then it becomes an issue.

I’ve received nasty comments about my hair. I wear my hair naturally curly, it’s always been this way, it’s the way I was born. When I was working in Las Vegas, I got a nasty email from someone saying, “I don’t believe hair like that can be cleaned properly, so every time I see you on TV, I fast forward through your segment.” You’re prepared to get picked apart, and working in this business, to some extent you know how to hold your tongue a little bit, which isn’t always fair. It was so amazing to see so many people come to my defense and say, “Hey Demetria, we’re not going to stand for this.”

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I was told in college, you’ll never be on television if you wear your hair curly and natural—you’ll have to straighten it or put a wig on. As bigger women, as colored women, as ethnic women, we had to hide and disguise to become accepted. But we are just find the way we are and we will no longer stand for this sort of discrimination.

People have called me obese. Even if I was obese, why do you think you get to use that in a way that’s aimed to hurt me? I come from a line of bigger women, so I know all about that. I’ve got big arms and I felt so self-conscious about them. But I don’t want my future daughter to feel insecure if something isn’t a certain way. And so many people are going through so many health issues. I have hyperthyroidism, which is traditionally supposed to make you lose weight, but it did nothing of the sort for me. I gained 20 pounds, but I love my 20 pounds, and I’m rocking with it. You never know what somebody is going through.

One of my co-workers must have been a size four when she got pregnant, she got a little bit bustier, and all of sudden she had people writing in saying, “You look really busty. This is unprofessional. Your hips are a little bit bigger; that dress is hugging you a little too tightly.” This constant criticism comes from men and women. I think it’s more hurtful when it comes from women, because I think we should stand together.

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We have a long way to go. Someone said to me, “You have to think of the men when you’re on air, you don’t want to distract them.” I have heard stories from newswomen who say, “I had on short sleeves and women would write me incessantly, saying, “You’re trying to seduce my husband by showing your arms.” We don’t serve men. There are so many men who reached out to me with support, so by no means is this a men versus women thing, but we have to acknowledge this patriarchal construct that has bound women for so many years. There’s nothing wrong with me showing my arms.

There’s nothing wrong with me showing my arms.

There’s so much that’s “unacceptable.” Your hair needs to be straight; if it’s curly or an afro it’s unprofessional. If you have curves, you need to wear a huge fit-and-flare dress to hide them, because it’s too big or too sensual or too erotic. I shouldn’t have to wear a potato sack to make you feel comfortable. I’ve heard people say, “Well, you’re in Texas now. We’re more conservative.” So you’re telling me that every time I travel to a different state, I have to assimilate to its cultural norms and values in order to be accepted? That’s not what America stands for. America is supposed to be a melting pot based on freedom from religious persecution and cultural persecution. Don’t tell me I have to assimilate.

I have a really thick skin, so you’re not going to catch me crying because you said I look a certain way in a dress or I look fat. I put myself out there to show other women: Hey, this is okay. I’ve been rewarded by the little girls with curly hair who come up to me, and they’re so happy to see someone who looks like them. It’s so important to see that representation in movies, television, magazines. It’s sad that we even have to talk about it, but when you look at the history of America, you understand why we have to. Because it should’ve already been there—the representation.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

So This Is How Chanel Does Unicorn Makeup

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Getty Victor VIRGILE + Gamma-Rapho

Whatever your thoughts are about unicorn beauty—that is, all things rainbow, glittery, horned, and even loosely inspired by the mythical equine creature–at this point, it’s pretty hard to deny that it’s a Thing. But maybe you’re still thinking it’s reserved for the weird and wacky corners of the internet, and not, say, the Grand Palais in Paris, where Chanel just wrapped its Fall 2017 haute couture show. The opulent presentation courtesy of King Karl featured three front row celebrities with platinum buzzcuts (Katy Perry, Cara Delevingne, Kristen Stewart), a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower—and bright, whimsical, multicolored eye makeup that was unmistakable #unicorngoals on every single model.

Tyler Joe

Tyler Joe

Getty

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Makeup artist Tom Pecheux and his team went full Roy G Biv, smudging a rich cerulean blue below the lids, then layering a kaleidoscope of vampy lilac, highlighter orange, and green apple right up to the brow bones. A smudge of glossy crimson was dabbed along the inner corners of the eyes; some models had a sprinkle of gold on the outer corners. The rest of the makeup was left refreshingly simple: Clean, velvet-fresh skin, a whisper of petal pink blush on cheeks, and if we’re not mistaken, natural lips finished with just the lightest swipe of translucent gloss.

At least this season, models weren’t wearing clothes to match. The fanciful makeup served as a counterpoint to the otherwise regal collection of tweeds, boucle, and derby hats done in haute finery.

MAC Launched a New Concealer That’ll Do Away With Cake-y Creases For Good

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A good makeup day can be ruined in an instant if your concealer isn’t cooperating. From coverage thinning throughout the day to product settling into fine lines and forming creases, a lot can go wrong. Thankfully, MAC is coming to the rescue with its newest launch, MAC Studio Waterweight Concealer ($23).

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Fans of the Studio Waterweight Foundation are familiar with its lightweight, gel-serum formula. Reviews wax poetic about its moisturizing qualities (especially great for dry skin types), and buildable, natural-looking coverage that feels feather-light on skin.

The concealer version, which comes in 16 shades, promises all those same qualities. Like the foundation, it also comes with a dropper to better apply the silky liquid over dark circles, redness, hyperpigmentation, or whatever problem areas you have.

Buzz for this launch has been brewing since September 2017 during fashion shows, where it debuted backstage. MAC Global Senior Artist Dominic Skinner first teased it on his Instagram, praising it for being “super lightweight” but “pack[ing] an almighty punch with coverage.”

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Makeup artists know best. Mark your calendars for January 11, when the concealer drops permanently in stores and online.

Beautiful David Beckham Is Launching a Beauty Line

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David Beckham, professional footballer, er, soccer star, model, fashion person, and Spice Girl husband can now add beauty guru to his already impressive list of achievements.

The 42-year-old is launching a new men’s grooming line with L’Oreal called House 99 by David Beckham. “I created House 99 to give people the inspiration as well as the right products to experiment and feel completely at home doing so,” explained Beckham. 99 is also symbolic in that it represents the year Beckham married Victoria, had his son Brooklyn, and won the Treble—a phrase used in soccer when a team wins three championships in a single season or calendar year—with Manchester United.

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House 99 will be a 13-piece grooming line including moisturizers, shaving creams, and beard oils.

“For me, grooming is not only about how you look, but how you feel. It’s about being comfortable, trying new things and shaping your next look,” says Beckham. And there’s seemingly no better spokesman for this than Beckham as his looks, like a fine wine, have only improved with age.

With Beckham entering the beauty space, it also marks a big move for the rapidly growing men’s grooming business. Will House of 99 be the Fenty Beauty of the men’s space or at least entice other celebrities to throw their hats into the ring? Your move, Cristiano Ronaldo.

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House 99 will officially launch in 19 countries exclusively at Ulta on March 4th.

Too Faced Is Releasing A Glitter Face Mask

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Too Faced Cosmetics sees your basic skincare routine and raises you a glittery face mask. On Monday night, co-founder and chief creative officer Jerrod Blandino Instagrammed a sneak peek video of woman applying a peel-off face mask loaded with tons of glitter.

Blandino captioned the post, “I’m working on something beyond Magical to make your skin Glow! #WeLiveInGlitter#GlitterMakesYouPretty#youveneverseenanythinglikethis#toofaced

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Longtime fans of the cruelty-free brand are used to Blandino’s sneak peek launches on Instagram—earlier this month, he teased a Chocolate Gold eye shadow palette with metallic and shimmery hues. The glitter face mask will also be Too Faced’s first venture into skincare; the beauty brand is already well-known for its peach-scented face kits and matte liquid lipsticks. Also worth noting? If we’re not mistaken, this is the first mass market glitter mask ever. (There are a few on Etsy.) And if the popularity of the shiny silver Glamglow Gravitymud is any indication, it will probably be beyond huge.

There’s no word yet on an official name or release date for the glitter mask so be sure to keep an eye on Blandino’s future Instagram posts.

Here’s What Nicki Minaj’s New M.A.C Lipsticks Look Like

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Good news for fans of Nicki Minaj’s first M.A.C lipstick collaboration (which was primarily pink): The singer is back next month with two new M.A.C lip colors, Nude and The Pinkprint, creamy mocha neutrals that the singer is often seen wearing. Minaj teased the campaign this morning on Instagram and hinted at a special project to come next year.

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Stay tuned for more updates on Minaj’s big surprise.

Nicki Minaj x M.A.C lipstick in Nicki’s Nude and The Pinkprint will available for $17.50/each on September 21at maccosmetics.com and select M.A.C stores nationwide.

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